Editor’s Note: #ChalkfullBullying is a campaign that resolves to tell stories about gender-based bullying that happens in school, where students, especially non-binary and girl students, are subject to harassment, moral policing, severe disciplining and punishment, and routine bullying. Their fault being: not conforming to outdated gender stereotypes, the repercussions for which can scar us for a lifetime.
Posted by Aanchal Khulbe
I was bullied in school. Literally every part of a girl’s body and dress is analysed, commented on and judged by the entire teacher and student body. We were called out for wearing short skirts by a misogynistic circle that called us ‘sluts’, and for wearing a long skirt (by a judgemental ‘friend group’), we were called ‘behenji‘.
Large breasts were named, made fun of, made cartoons of, made doodles of on desks, notebooks and walls and small breasts were called ‘manly’, not woman enough, even to the extent of being labelled as ‘hijras‘, etc. This is only the beginning of a vast world of shaming and harassment that happened in school.
I remember one of the male teachers once held my hand with both hands when I had entered a classroom to announce auditions for the upcoming debate competition. He refused to let go. He literally made a mockery of it and was constantly telling me how important I was and what a good student I was. He was announcing it in the class.
I was trying snatch to myself away, the entire class laughed, and he kept pulling me closer. I didn’t know how to react. I was forcing myself to smile for the ‘compliments’ inside the classroom but burst into tears as soon as I went out.
A lot of people had overheard conversations from the male staff room about girls’ and teachers’ body parts. We had to follow a strict dress code even for our undergarments. Up to class 5, our underwear was checked for the ‘right colour’. Transgression would ensure a slap on the palm by a ruler, or a fine. Repetition of transgression resulted in the gloriously infamous ‘yellow card’.
We had to follow a strict dress code even for our undergarments.
Throughout school life, a strict code for the type and colour of underwear was observed. Visible bra straps, of course, were sacrilege. Hair had to be plaited or divided into two ponies. Elaborating the details of all this is important.
These norms were put up and surveyed by school authorities, so the gendering wasn’t an easy percolation of the dominant ideology, it was imposed and reimposed by the institution of the school. I am just shaken by how all of us endured and lived through this environment and how students of all ages continue to do so.
Aanchal is a motivated, far-sighted, pro-dialogue, Ambedkarite feminist. She has dedicated her life to working on and looking through the lens of gender, caste, sexual violence, subjecthood and law. She can be followed on Facebook.
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